The Important Bird Area (IBA) program was founded by BirdLife International in the 1980s and today contains over 8,000 identified sites across 178 countries. The purpose of the program is to identify a network of sites that maintain the long-term viability of wild bird populations while engaging the public to conserve those areas of critical habitat. National Audubon is the United States IBA partner and since 1998 has identified over 2,500 sites covering more than 370 million acres of habitat.
The Arizona IBA Program was established in 2001, is co-administered by Audubon Southwest and the Tucson Audubon Society, and works in close collaboration with the Arizona Game and Fish Department (through the Arizona Bird Conservation Initiative), the Sonoran Joint Venture, the Intermountain West Joint Venture, Arizona State Parks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, and others. The state's 48 IBAs are varied in the type of habitat they identify but they all share one thing in common - they are vital for Arizona’s native birds. Some are riparian corridors, others are cool and lush sky islands, a few are high elevation pine forests, and one is even a vast expanse of desert. Others, like the Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch of the National Audubon Society IBA, are designated to aid in the conservation of Arizona's grasslands and grassland-dependent birds.
Read on to learn more about the AWRR IBA, or head here for an interactive map of all of Arizona's IBAs.
Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch of the National Audubon Society IBA
(For a more complete description of the Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch of the National Audubon Society IBA, visit its page on aziba.org.)
- D1 Site Important to Special Status Avian Species (Botteri’s sparrow, Cassin’s Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Rufous- winged Sparrow, Lilian’s Eastern Meadowlark)
- D3 Rare, unique, or exceptional representative habitat/ecological community (desert grassland, un-grazed since 1968)
- D5 Research and Education
Description: This IBA is located in a broad semi-desert grassland in Southeastern Arizona. It is a 12 square mile sanctuary from which livestock has been excluded since 1968.
Mission/Goals: The mission of The Research Ranch is to formulate, test, and demonstrate methods to restore and safeguard the bioregion, and provide assistance to community members and policy-makers in the protection and stewardship of our native ecosystems, natural resources, and quality of life.
Represented Habitat Percentages*:
- 49.24 Semiarid/Sonoran Savannah Grassland
- 37.13 Chihuahuan Desertscrub
- 9.64 Mexican Evergreen Woodland
- 1.23 Wash
- 1.19 Interior Chaparral
- 1.57 Other
*Data from the Southwest Regional Gap Analysis as modified to align with Arizona Breeding Bird Atlas/Arizona State Wildlife Action Plan habitat types.
Focal Bird Species:
- IBA Qualifying Species
- State – Botteri’s sparrow, Cassin’s Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Rufous-winged Sparrow, Chihuahuan Meadowlark
- AGFD Species of Greatest Conservation Need
- Tier 1a - Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo
- Tier 1b - Botteri’s Sparrow, Baird’s Sparrow, Golden Eagle, Grasshopper Sparrow, Western Burrowing owl, Common Nighthawk, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Gould’s Turkey, Lark Bunting, Gila Woodpecker, Arizona Woodpecker, Azure Bluebird, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Rufous-winged Sparrow
- Federal Threatened or Endangered Species
- Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo
- USFWS Birds of Conservation Concern
- National – Swainson’s Hawk, Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Loggerhead Shrike, Lucy’s Warbler, Brewer’s Sparrow, Baird’s Sparrow
- USFWS Region – Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Western Burrowing Owl, Loggerhead Shrike, Lucy’s Warbler, Botteri’s Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow